It is hard to find a prospect with as much power that Adam Brett Walker has displayed the past four seasons. Despite blasting monster home runs for the duration of his professional career, he has yet to see a big league pitch. That could change with the Atlanta Braves.
Walker was a third round draft pick by the Minnesota Twins in 2012. He was coming off of a huge final season at Jacksonville, slashing .343/.426/.581 with 12 home runs and 14 doubles. He then launched 14 home runs in his 58-game professional debut in the Appy League.
Jaws dropped. Drool dripped. Walker’s power bat was on the scene.
The problem is that his game simply hasn’t matured.
The past four full seasons in the Twins farm system has seen Walker blast 110 home runs. That’s 28 home runs a season. He has also struck out 668 times over that same span over 2,197 plate appearances. He has a career 30 percent strikeout rate in the minor leagues. Big league pitching would simply eat him alive.
Walker led the Southern League in home runs by a wide margin in 2015 with 31. That feat was somewhat overlooked when he became the first Twin to lead the minor leagues in strikeouts that season, a whopping 195. He followed up that performance by leading the International League in strikeouts last year. He struck out 202 times.
Thus, Walker has sat in the Twins farm system. Despite an MLB-worst 59-win season, and a left field platoon that saw names like Eddie Rosario, Robbie Grossman and Oswaldo Arcia get regular at bats, Walker wasn’t given a chance. The Twins waived him this offseason with Daniel Palka looking ready to make an impact at the next level.
The Braves are now his third landing spot this offseason alone. He has traveled from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Baltimore Orioles and now to the Braves. It is somewhat a surprising move for Walker to come to the National League. A former collegiate first baseman, Walker was moved to the outfield because the Twins saw him as a liability at his original position. The move to left field hasn’t produced anything noteworthy. Walker seemed much more apt as a designated hitter than a position player, but the Braves currently have him penciled in on their 40-man roster.
It is a good landing spot for Walker. The Braves took Adonis Garcia — a 30 year old "prospect" — out of the Yankees farm system and have made him a functional place holder on their ever-evolving team. Perhaps they could do the same for Walker.
That is, assuming Walker sticks around longer than his last two spots. The Braves starting outfield is set, so his shortcomings in the field as a fourth outfielder won’t be as glaring. Perhaps his power would be most effective in a limited role, taking the time to finally learn how to lay off breaking pitches. The Braves could always use an extra power bat in a lineup that has finished dead last in baseball in home runs the past two seasons.
Walker clearly has some setbacks, which have held him back. His power is just too attractive to overlook, and at 25 and in a new system, he may finally get his chance.
That is assuming he’s still on the Braves by the time you are done reading this.